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El Baradei backs India-US N-deal
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | November 07, 2005 23:27 IST
The Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammed El Baradei has strongly endorsed the US-India civilian nuclear agreement.
The accord, "properly managed, would take us some way forward," toward the international community's goals and objectives toward nonproliferation, he said.
The comments came during the question and answer session after his keynote address which kicked off the two-day Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's International Nonproliferation Conference in Washington, DC, on Monday.
"I would like to recall that when I came here in 2002, I made the plea that India, Pakistan and Israel, should be treated as partners and not as pariahs. So I am three years ahead of the Bush Administration on this issue," he told the more than 750 delegates from all over the world attending the parley, the majority of whom are against the US-India nuclear deal.
Baradei, whose endorsement of the US-India nuclear agreement has been considered "surprising" by the nuclear non-proliferation lobby, said he was primarily "supportive of the Indian (agreement) because India, Pakistan and Israel, in my view, are not going to come to the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) through the normal route. This is a reality."
"When we develop a policy vis-a-vis India, Pakistan and Israel, it has to be a comprehensive policy. India for example, with the United States, has the policy in cooperation in all areas of activities except in the peaceful applications of nuclear technology."
Thus, "When I judge that agreement, I judge it (by asking) does it enhance safety? And the answer is yes, because India is going to build so many reactors, and I'd like to make sure that they will get the highest level of advanced technology."
"Is India going to open up to the Agency and international community for safety oversight? Yes, they would. Is India going to help in becoming part of associate itself with the Supplier Group and help us to make sure that no new countries are going to acquire nuclear weapons? The answer is yes."
"Is India going to separate its fuel cycle between the military and the civilian (facilities) and accept IAEA safeguards on their civilian reactors, which is a good beginning to our universalization of safeguards? Yes it is," he continued.
So I take an absolutely practical, pragmatic approach,(and) I don't see that (this agreement) in any way as giving India a new status as a (nuclear) weapons state or a non-nuclear weapons state," he said.
"For me India, Pakistan and Israel are weapons states, at least two of them have declared to be weapons states, and as I said a couple of years ago, the idea that they are de jure or de factor to me is totally irrelevant."
"If there is a war, a nuclear war, between India and Pakistan, we are not going to say this is not a nuclear war because we do not recognize them (as nuclear powers)," he argued.
"I need to see concrete measures, how to bring these guys on board. India is one-sixth of the world's (population)..one billion people. I'd like to make sure that they are partners in the area of safety, security and nonproliferation. I think that agreement properly managed, would take us some way forward," he concluded.